LONDON: The naming of two former FIFA officials who accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks may expedite reform, according to the Swiss law professor overseeing the soccer body’s cleanup.
FIFA’s executive committee will decide July 17 whether to accept names put forward by Mark Pieth’s Independent Governance Committee to head up newly created ethics bodies at the Zurich- based organization.
Court records made public two days ago showed that ex-FIFA President Joao Havelange and former executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira amassed as much as US$22 million between them in payments from the collapsed ISL marketing company.
The duo had tried to block the publication of the documents. FIFA had also paid a Swiss court US$2.5 million in compensation on condition a criminal investigation against the pair be dropped.
“It is quite fortunate that this thing is coming out because it raises the tempo and should indicate to FIFA why we are doing this reform,” Pieth, who investigated corruption in Iraq’s oil-for-food program in 2004, said in a telephone interview.
“It should impress on them why they need an independent judiciary.”
Choosing an independent investigator and a judge, who will look at allegations of wrongdoing by members, is part of a series of reforms FIFA has been forced to undergo. It is come under pressure from sponsors, lawmakers and media to change the way it does business
The crisis reached its height following the selection of hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December 2010, and President Sepp Blatter’s re-election to a fourth four-year term unopposed six months later.
His only rival, Mohamed bin Hammam, pulled out a day before being investigated for alleged vote- buying. He has denied wrongdoing.
Blatter yesterday said he knew about the kickbacks received by Havelange and Teixeira, which were paid as commissions by ISL to individuals as it signed television and marketing rights with sports bodies, including FIFA.
The 76-year-old, who worked under Havelange as FIFA’s general secretary at the time of the payments, said he did not take any action because they were not illegal under Swiss law at the time they were paid. (Bloomberg/T03)